Rome, 6 (18) Feb. 1874
I hasten to express to you from afar my joy, greetings and my congratulations to our Musorgsky. This morning I read in Golos of the performance of Boris Godunov. And in spite of all the critic's desire not to speak the truth, it is nevertheless obvious that the opera has had a tremendous success. I've just read the same thing in S.-Peterburgski Vedomosti, that the opera is definitely a success and that its gifted composer was called several times after each act.
From my own side I also call him to stand on guard before the art of truth and of the people, that which is based on the finest human feelings--on truth and on beauty. Once more I repeat your words: "And with new strength, let us continue our mutual, though diverse, work."18 Once more greetings to the conqueror, I am very, very happy for him and for all new art!
Rome, 16/28 February, 1874
I am sorry, very sorry for Musorgsky. Recently I wrote exactly what you have now said: "Why do talents fade away so quickly?" I don't know.--Perhaps it is that only empty hearts beat evenly? Perhaps because consciousness comes to us before knowledge? The soul strains towards freedom, but where is it?--Well, an artist often comes upon a thorny path, first he moves forward, then he grows weary, then he stumbles, grows faint, and falls. Ekh, Russia! it needs so many more victims before it will begin to lead a normal life. Such victims will serve as a platform for the people of the future. This, in my opinion, is the truth, and therefore all the more saddening.
I read the analysis of the opera Boris Godunov in Golos. I think I have never encountered anything more stupid and trivial than this. It is stupid in that the one [Laroche] analyzing the opera nags pettishly at petty things and doesn't realize at all the essence of the opera. It is stupid mainly because he drags in personalities: this is unforgivable, this means that he has no respect for the printed word; and finally, this isn't fair. However, his trivial attitude that "nothingness is realism," and that realism is liberalism and both "try to break the chains of the times"--all this sufficiently proves that it's no use talking about such____________________